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Passion for pop culture leads Amsterdam man to ‘Fangasm’

New reality series celebrates life of a geek

Saturday, September 14, 2013
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Sal Fringo, of Amsterdam, who will star in the television reality series "Fangasm," poses with an actor dressed as Boba Fett, a character from the "Star Wars" film series.
Sal Fringo, of Amsterdam, who will star in the television reality series "Fangasm," poses with an actor dressed as Boba Fett, a character from the "Star Wars" film series.

— Being a geek might finally being paying off for Sal Fringo.

The 25-year-old Amsterdam native could soon be ditching life at a video game store in exchange for a job with comic book legend Stan Lee, if he comes out on top in the SyFy network’s new reality series, “Fangasm,” which celebrates and rewards geeks and geekdom.

Fringo was one of seven self-identified geeks who were filmed in Los Angeles this summer, where they helped prepare for the Comikaze Expo, the city’s largest pop-culture convention.

The show debuts at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Fringo, who isn’t shy about calling himself a geek, says the label applies because of his devotion to video games and pop culture, like “Star Wars.” He said anyone with an intense passion, whether it’s for comic books, video games, animé or anything in the world of pop culture, can be characterized as a geek.

“I’ve always been a geek,” he said.

He graduated from Amsterdam High School in 2006 and attended a fine arts college until running out of money. Since then, he has worked odd jobs, including teaching a comic book art class to kids, which he did dressed as the Marvel Comics character Iron Man.

Being a geek, Fringo said, doesn’t deserve the negative connotation it has developed over the years, fostered by television shows like “The Big Bang Theory.” A geek can go out in public and be socially adept and isn’t necessarily “a virgin living in their mom’s basement,” he explained.

The seven geeks on “Fangasm” lived and worked together, with tasks including pitching comic book ideas to Lee, the legendary creator of such comic book characters as Spider-Man, the Hulk and the X-Men; cleaning a storage space belonging to Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, mistress of the Dark; and organizing a launch party for Comikaze.

During filming, Fringo said they had no access to television or video games.

He said producers were smart to deny them those outlets, because geeks can become absorbed in them and the show needed the cast to interact.

Getting to tell Lee about a comic book idea was a big thrill for Fringo, who said Lee is his idol. He can’t say much about the idea he shared, but said it was something that has been on his mind for years.

“A lot of geeks have an original comic book idea that is kicking around,” Fringo said.

After a crazy summer, Fringo is back in Amsterdam, where he is again able to enjoy video games.

He is set to return to Los Angeles in October for the Comikaze Expo. Regardless of how the show ends, Fringo wants to move back to the West Coast in a year or two.

His next big challenge is finding a way to watch himself this fall.

“I don’t even have cable,” he said. “I’m going to friends’ houses and restaurants to watch.”

 
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